LAPLACE, Pierre Simon, Marquis de (1749-1827). Trait de mcanique cleste. Paris: Crapelet for J.B.M. Duprat, 1799-1802 (Vols. 1-3); Paris: Courcier, 1805 (Vol. 4); Paris: Huzard-Courcier for Bachelier, 1825-27 (Vol. 5).
5 volumes, 4o (273 x 212 mm [Vol. 1], 274 x 212 mm [Vol. 2], 268 x 211 mm [Vol. 3], 271 x 216 mm [Vol. 4], 263 x 207 mm [Vol. 5]). Half-titles, engraved folding plate in vol. 4. (Some foxing to preliminaries in Vol. 5.) Vols. 1-4 in original pink mottled wrappers, remnants of printed spine labels, unopened and uncut (some chipping and wear to spine ends, some fading); Vol. 5 rebound in modern red quarter morocco, marbled boards. Provenance: A. & M. Kiveliovitch (bookplate on title-page of Vol. 5, dated 1915).
FIRST EDITION OF LAPLACE'S FUNDAMENTAL WORK ON CELESTIAL MECHANICS. Published over a period of 27 years, Laplace's monumental Trait de mcanique cleste codified and developed the theories and achievements of Newton, Euler, d'Alembert and his contemporary Lagrange. In the tradition of Newton's Principia (see lot 692), Laplace "applied his analytical mathematical theories to celestial bodies and concluded that the apparent changes in the motion of planets and their satellites are changes of long periods, and that the solar system is in all probability very stable" (Dibner). Newton remained uncertain with respect to the continuity of our solar system. In this work Laplace also offered explanations unsolved by his predecessors and contemporaries. He "offered a brilliant explanation of the secular inequalities of the mean motion of the moon about the earth--a problem which Euler and Lagrange had failed to solve. He proved that these irregularities are connected with certain solar actions and changes in the orbit of the earth. He also investigated the theory of the tides and calculated from them the mass of the moon" (PMM).
The first four volumes of the work appeared from 1799 through 1805, and contain the laws of mechanics for their application to the motions and figures of the heavenly bodies. The final parts of the fourth volume and the entire fifth volume, really constitute a separate work and contain important material on physics not already included in the original sequence.
The Norman set contains the first state title-pages in the first two volumes, with French Republican dates only and without the added Berlin imprint (printed for European distribution). AN EXTREMELY FINE SET, MOSTLY IN ORIGINAL CONDITION. Dibner Heralds of Science 14; Grolier/Horblit 63; PMM 252; Sparrow Milestones of Science 125; Norman 1277. (5)